We have heard the story hundreds of times, but right before Jesus was born, his parents were having a hard time finding a place to stay in Bethlehem. There was no room for them in the inn, so they had to move into a stable.
As we think about Advent, we’re celebrating the coming of Jesus Christ. Our excitement is building up because we want to joyously celebrate His arrival on Christmas Day. What we look forward to is probably what Mary and Joseph were terrified of at the time. We know the end of the story, and we know that Jesus’ birth worked out just fine. Joseph and Mary knew that Jesus was the Messiah because of angelic insight, but they really didn’t know how this particular night was going to work out. For all they knew, even the stable might not have room.
That’s kind of the way it is with all difficult times. In the midst of those situations, we have no idea what is going on. We don’t know how everything will work out. We know it will come to some type of end, but we don’t particularly know what that in this going to be.
Looking back at it however, we know how it worked out, and we have a different perspective on it. Kind of like looking at Advent from our time in history, we know that there may have been difficult times, but we also know the results of that difficult time we went through. I am rather convinced that even the most difficult times we go through can be redeemed. Mary and Joseph endured a difficult journey as we talked about on Monday, and that journey was necessary in order to fill Biblical prophecy. Without that journey it is quite possible that prophecy would have been incorrect, and that would deal a substantial blow to God as we know Him. Our understanding of God would be severely damaged if what He said would happen did not happen.
That which is difficult turned out having an outstanding benefit. That benefit was most clearly seen in hindsight though. As a result, when we end up in problematic scenarios, we must remember that being trapped in that current moment can blind us to the overarching truths that God is able to redeem anything we go through.
It makes me even think about Jeremiah. He was a very unsuccessful prophet if we judge him by the amount of people he convinced. Most people didn’t listen to him. However, we still read about him today, and people are moved by his experience. By taking a step back and looking from the future, we understand the value of what Jeremiah went through, but his life was far from easy.
As we think about this episode right before the birth of Jesus Christ, God was able to use difficult circumstances in a miraculous way. In fact, God is still able to use our difficult circumstances in a miraculous way. I think God is still in the business of doing miracles, and he has not left us here to flounder by ourselves. He will redeem anything.